On October 9, 2020, Shawki Allam, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, was interviewed on Sada Al-Balad TV (Egypt). He said that it is a minority of Muslims that carry out terrorist attacks and atrocities. He also argued that since a large proportion of ISIS fighters came from Europe, perhaps there may be something wrong in the way that European Muslims are dealing with Muslim issues and thus causing Muslims to radicalize. He elaborated that many of the European Muslims who joined ISIS were in fact, converts to Islam. He further argued that there may be something wrong with the way European Muslims themselves are behaving, and he mentioned that Islamic centers in Europe, who ultimately give Islam a "bad name" funded by various organizations from within the Muslim world.
Interviewer: "Put yourself in the place of someone who hears about killings, bombings, vehicle-ramming attacks, the capturing of Yazidi women, murders with knives in malls and metro stations, and the attempts to take over theaters and take hostages. Put yourself in such a person's place. Every time, you are told that [the perpetrator] was an Egyptian Muslim, or a Pakistani Muslim, an Algerian Muslim, or a Moroccan Muslim. The point is that it is a Muslim of any nationality. The issue is that the focus is on Islam. This [leads] to Islamophobia.
Shawki Allam: "There are more than 1.8 billion Muslims in the world."
Shawki Allam: "How many of them commit such crimes? I am not justifying their crimes. I condemn their crimes. This totally contradicts Islam. But these individual crimes by some Muslims should not be the grounds for judgment in a way that harms Muslims and Islam itself. What should be done is..."
Interviewer: "The phenomenon should be narrowed down."
Allam: "Yes, and the phenomenon should be studied."
Allam: "This is why we studied the issue in 2016, and found that the number of Europeans in ISIS is rising."
Allam: "Yes, it got to a point where about 50% of second and third-generation Muslims living in Europe [are in ISIS]. This raised a question: Why does a young [Muslim] man go and... I visited France and I met the French Minister of Interior, who is responsible for religious matters. He said that a French young man and a French young woman joined ISIS. One week they were non-Muslims, the following week they became Muslims, and the week after they joined ISIS. You can ask yourself many questions. What drove these two, in a matter of a week..."
Interviewer: "They changed their religion and joined ISIS."
Interviewer: " — They went into the unknown."
Alam: "Exactly. Why did they do that? No doubt there is something wrong in these countries in the way they deal with Muslim issues, and [there is something wrong] with the Muslims themselves as well. We have to ask ourselves many questions and offer many solutions in this matter. We raised this question, and we answered it through a practical step. We conducted a conference. We studied the roots of the problem. We found that we need to reassess the people in charge of Islamic centers abroad — their scholarly training and their qualification. They are called 'religious leaders' there. A religious leader in any [Islamic] center must be suitable for the task, and he must present the true image of Islam. Unfortunately, when you study the structure of Islamic centers in the world, you find that in most cases — I don't want to make generalizations — they follow certain agendas. I mean various agendas — that of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other agendas. A lot of money is invested in them.
Interviewer: "And also Salafi, Shi'ite, and all kinds of other [agendas]."
Alam: "Why are [Islamic centers] funded in such a generous way? What is the incentive to fund them?"
Interviewer: "So they present a different discourse."
Alam: "So they present a certain discourse that may — as it has actually done in the past — make matters worse creating a negative image of Islam that people are scared of."